When Sadie returned to her parents home, to get her possessions, her father had had a change of heart and did everything he could to discourage her from returning to Montana, but she persisted with her dream. She ordered a laundry stove, table, chair, and folding cot from Sears & Roebuck, packed up her other things, boarded the train and headed west.
She enjoyed fixing up her little cabin, making bookcases and cupboards out of the shipping crates her possessions had come in. She settled into her new life on the 320 acres (130 ha.) of prairie grassland. For the first time in her life she felt the independence of being able to go to bed when she wanted and wake up when she felt like it. She had to maintain residence on her new home for five years, before she could claim ownership.
Most homesteaders existed by farming. Alone, living by herself, Sadie could not farm, but she was able to secure a job teaching in a one room school. She found a family that was willing to board her, who lived by the empty house that served as the school. During the week Sadie boarded with the family, then on Friday after school she would retune to her cabin for the weekends. One October Sunday, a promised ride did not materialize and at 4:00, she decided that she would have to walk the 8 miles (13 km) back to her boarding house.
She had been told of a short, which she tried, but she couldn't find the trail. Darkness began to settle in. There were no visible landforms to help her find her way. She looked for light from a house in the scarcely populated landscape. She knew she was lost. She came upon free range cattle in the darkness, and heard the wail of coyotes. After five hours, she spotted a light and made her way to a house, where she was taken in. She was wet with perspiration, from all her walking and worry. After a nights rest she was taken by wagon to her her school so she could begin her week of teaching.
One afternoon, when Sadie was away, during a storm, lightning struck the side of the room where she was boarding, causing a fire. She lost most of her things that she had there, and she was forced to find another place to lodge.
Another time a motorcycle spooked the horses of a wagon she was riding in. The driver was thrown from the wagon, as the horses bolted, another man jumped to safety, leaving Sadie and another girl clinging for their lives on the runway wagon. As the horses approached a drop off, both of the girls jumped off of the wagon. Sadie was all banged up, and had to spend the following day in bed.
Sadia had a cellar built near her cabin to store food in. One time she entered into it to get something, she heard the rattle of a rattlesnake, so she promptly left. A girl friend who was visiting at the time said she wasn't afraid of a rattler, and entered the cellar, she quickly came back out and reported that there were two rattlesnakes done there. Sadie never went back into that root cellar again.
The homesteading laws were changed and so after just three years of living in her little cabin, the 320 acres of land became Sadie's. She moved back to South Dakota, and married my grandfather. She was always very proud of striking out on her own, and getting the homestead land. During her retirement, she took an oil painting workshop, and it was her little cabin in Montana, that became the subject of her only painting. While primitive, it shows a great love of her memories of her adventurous life as a young lady.
Sadie's land still remains in our the hands of various members of my family. They rent it out to a local farmer, who sends them a cheque every year for the wheat he grows there.
To read older blogs or to view my paintings go to: www.davidmarchant.ca
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